William Joseph Rankin F'10

William Joseph Rankin
Associate Professor
Yale University

Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships 2010
Doctoral Candidate
History of Science and Architecture
Harvard University
After the Map: Cartography, Navigation, and the Transformation of Territory in the Twentieth Century

In the decades surrounding World War II, there was a broad and coherent shift in the mapping sciences from an interest in the authoritative representation of terrain to an interest in developing pragmatic infrastructural tools that would be installed as part of the landscape. By looking at three major international projects—the International Map of the World, the US Army’s grid-based alternative to latitude and longitude, and the various efforts to create a worldwide radio-navigation system, leading to GPS—this dissertation argues that the transformation of geographic space into a new kind of engineering service both inaugurated a new politics of global spatial legibility and constructed a new, geographically embedded subject for whom nationally defined space would become increasingly irrelevant.